A formal analysis of Mary Cassatt

Topics: Eye, Opera, Color Pages: 5 (592 words) Published: January 29, 2014
Running Head: Comparison & Contrast Essay

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A FORMAL ANALYSIS OF MARY CASSATT'S In the Loge

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A FORMAL ANALYSIS OF MARY CASSATT'S In the Loge

Comparison & Contrast Essay

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Mary Cassatt created her oil on canvas painting In the Loge in 1878. The two dimensional painting measures 81.28 x 66.04 cm / 32 x 26 inches and is currently on display at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. The painting's subject is a young upper class woman at the opera in Paris. The sitter is none other than Mary Cassatt’s own sister. Paris in the last half of the nineteenth century had become a booming modern city and was a place of spectacle. This was often observed in the opera house where people often went not only to view the opera but also to see each other and people watch. This painting tells a story of the grand feeling of attending the opera an viewing all the sights associated with such a grand event. At first look, you are drawn to the subjects ear. The artists draws the viewer here by painting a small shiny earring on the subject. This is also accomplished by painting the subjects outfit which is a large black area that sends the eye to the subjects ear. Examining the face of the subject she is holding a pair of opera glasses to her eyes. However the subject is not focusing downward onto the stage as expected. The glasses are focused straight across as if looking on to an adjacent balcony at other viewers.

As you leave the face of the subject, the balcony follows around the painting leading to another area of the painting. The portrayal of the balcony wrapping around the painting gives it depth and the color of the balcony makes this stand out. As your eyes follow the balcony around the painting, it leads to another subject, a gentleman also holding a pair of opera glasses pointing back at the woman. The male figure has the same pose, with his arm on the balcony, as the woman giving this piece symmetry and a pattern of shapes. Continuing patterns are also shown repeated throughout the painting on the front of the balcony boxes. The subject of the painting is

A FORMAL ANALYSIS OF MARY CASSATT'S In the Loge

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brought to importance because she is sandwiched between the viewer and the man on the far balcony.
The appropriate use of lines in this painting lead the viewers eye around the painting. The sharp lines of the dividers between the balcony boxes helps to pull the viewers eye up and down the painting to the lower balcony boxes. Again, the use of bold lines in the lower balcony boxes lead the viewers eye back the the main subject of this painting. Another small detail the artist helps to move the viewers eye up and down the painting is the vein in the sitters right hand that stands out to the viewer.

Different textures are used throughout this piece to illustrate various surfaces seen in the opera house. The fine texture of the sitters skin give great detail to the subjects fine smooth skin. The different brush strokes also lead to different perspective and depth throughout the piece. The appropriate use of colors in the painting like golds and pastels evokes the grand feel of the opera house.

Mary Cassatt’s In the Loge clearly demonstrates the story of the excitement of the opera house through her excellent use of lines, repeating shapes, color, emphasis on subjects, and contrasting colors throughout the painting.

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Comparison & Contrast Essay

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